Friday, 29 June 2012

Gold in a School Admission Register

A wonderful source of information that many overlook is the School Admission Register that records family details at the time of initial enrolment and (sometimes) changes as a child moves through schooling.

In Queensland, these (mainly hand-written) records are available on microfilm at the State Archives, which also provides a detailed Search Procedure (#14) on how to use them.

It can be quite nostalgic to peruse the list of all those with whom you began school (especially so, if you have a class photo nearby); but the records can also provide intriguing insights into wider issues.

On my own first day of school in the 1950s, 101 new Grade 1 pupils were enrolled along with 26 children in higher grades. The most recent Annual Report of the same school reported that the whole school enrolment in 2011 (Years Prep to 7) stood at 194 and had been "stable" for several years.

Of the 101 new Infants, three were what is today described as being "in care" (that is, they were housed in a church-run institution). One of the 98 identified parents had the occupation listed as "housewife", all of the rest have a male parent in employment.

The most frequent single occupations listed were public servant (7) and clerk (7) just ahead of PMG employee (6) and soldier (6).

When occupations are grouped, the most frequent classifications were clerical (19) building and construction (13) motor trades (12) and communication (9).

There were very few professionals (two accountants, an architect, an engineer and a school teacher) or low-skilled workers (three hospital wardsmen, one waterside worker, a railway fettler, a school cleaner and a single general labourer).

In 2011 the school has an above-average rating for the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage, with 32% of enrolled students being drawn from the top quarter of parental incomes (albeit with 29% drawn from the lowest quarter). In just over half a century, the entire population of the area has been transformed.

The national census now collects data on the proportion of homes with broadband data connections rather than dial-up as a measure of technological sophistication. In my class group of the 1950s,just 20 families had a telephone number recorded as a means of contact.

Of course, we must remember that School Admission Registers were compiled by one person writing in information provided by another and interpret them with appropriate caution. My own date of birth is incorrect; with the "wrong" month. Just why, is a tale for another time.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...